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St. Nicolas Traditions

Below is part of a blog post from Kara Powell titled "5 tips to lessen your family stress this holiday season."  I'm including the first tip on this blog about celebrations because I think this hits the nail on the head... 
"Holiday concerts. Last-minute gift shopping. A longer-than-normal list of church and family events. And to top it all off, our teenagers often have mid-December final exams. No wonder the holidays feel stressful. I imagine scenes of our family holidays that include fireplaces, pajamas, and relaxed card games together. And yet our reality often looks like rushing to the next event and cramming in late-night runs to Target for the gift that’s needed tomorrow.  Over the years, my husband, Dave, and I have found that less can be more during the holidays. As we choose better, and choose less, we actually end up enjoying the holidays more and feel more connected as a family.
Choosing better and choosing less can help your family feel more connected. (tweet that)
Here are five ideas—most of which we’ve gleaned from our friends—that help us make less more:

1. Shed some traditions.

I love traditions, and my husband and kids cherish them even more than me. But over the years, traditions have accumulated. Layer by layer, that great gift-buying ritual we added when our kids became preteens gets added on top of the children’s Christmas book evening we instituted when they were kindergarteners. Eventually, all those rituals start to become suffocating, not life-giving. So we’ve asked our kids what rituals they care about the most. And we’re cutting most of the rest.  Our weekly hot chocolate, candle-lighting and carol-singing Advent ritual stays. So does driving around our city to check out lights on Christmas Eve. But we’ve cut cookie decorating and making homemade gifts for our neighbors this year. We just can’t do it all."   -Kara Powell 
It is so true that traditions around our house have accumulated, and we do have to adjust each year to make it fit the season of our lives. So, while we still have the Advent book countdown with the gift bags of books lining our stairs, I am not counting on being able to read every night with the kids because of homework, dance rehearsals and extra activities that are popping up.  I still love the time we do carve out to cuddle up and read when we get a chance.  One other tradition that we have kept (but adjusted) this year is our St. Nicolas Day celebration. 
In anticipation of St. Nicolas Day (tomorrow on December 6th), we simply used some little candy bars (yes, I admit these were leftover from Halloween) and wrapped them up in paper to make them festive.  We used to make St. Nicolas cookies, but this is such a great way to simplify and still have some fun with less work with these little candy bar wrappers. 

Right before dinner, I called everyone to the kitchen. While I was getting dinner on the table, I sent Anna and Byron out on the St. Nicolas mission.  (They were tasked to ring the doorbell of the houses we chose, leave the St. Nicolas treats, and run away without getting caught).   Instead of making it something that took up a whole evening, I pared it down and just sent them to two houses instead of 7-8 like we have done in the past.  We have had to get a little creative and choose some new neighbors since many of our friends know we do this every year. So- to try to keep an element of surprise, we chose houses where we have not left St. Nicolas treats before.
It was short and sweet this year, but hopefully the mission was still accomplished to bring some holiday cheer to the neighborhood.  


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